102 JOURNEYS IN PERSIA LETTER xx
ideas which they attach to them. I am inclined to think
that they look on them as the abodes of genii, always
malignant, and requiring to be propitiated. In passing-
such places they use a formula equivalent to " May God
avert evil/' and it is common, as in Nubra and Ladak,
to hang pieces of rag on such trees and stones as offerings
to the genius loci.
They regard certain places as possibly haunted by
spirits, always evil, and never those of the departed; but
this can scarcely be termed a belief, as it is lightly held,
and quite uninfluential, except in preventing them from
passing such places alone in the darkness.
The opinions concerning God represent Him chiefly as
a personification of a fate, to which they must bow, and
as a Judge, to whom, in some mysterious way, they must
account after death. Earthly justice appears to them
as a commodity to be bought and sold, as among the
Persians, or as it is among themselves, as severity solely,
without a sentiment of mercy; and I have asked
them often if they think that anything will be able to
affect the judgment of the Judge of all, in case it should
go against them. Usually they reply in the negative,
but a few say that Ali, the Lieutenant of God, will ask
for mercy for them, and that he will not be refused.
Of God as a moral being I think they have little
conception, and less of the Creator as an object of love.
Of holiness as an attribute of God they have no idea.
Their ejaculation, " God is good," has really no meaning.
Charity, under the term "goodness," they attribute to
God. But they have no notion of moral requirements
on the part of the Creator, or of sin as the breaking of
any laws which He has laid down. They concern them-
selves about the requirements of religion in this life and
about the future of the soul as little as is possible, and
they narrow salvation within the limits of the Shiah sect.